Compliance (dir. Craig Zobel, 2013)

Watched yesterday afternoon on a Lovefilm rental.

To say this is a shocking, disturbing, compelling film is not an understatement. It left me gripped, wanting it to end but also desperately wanting it to end happily. Based on the bizarre true story of the strips search prank call scam, this really will leave you wondering what to do the next time the phone rings – and it claims to be the police. The way that people will jump if they feel they are being addressed by a figure of authority is fascinating, and Zobel cuts to the heart of this.

Its another day at a fast food retailer, ChickWich, in an anonymous retail park in nowheresville, USA. The manager, Sandra (a terrific Ann Dowd), is already harrassed by a broken down freezer and fearful of a secret shopper. Barking orders at her staff, she is called by “Officer Daniels”, a cop who claims an upset customer has accused pretty 19 year old Becky (Dreama Walker) of stealing from her. Sandra takes Becky into the back, and agrees to help the police until they get there…and a nightmare starts, which escalates from questioning to searching to a sexual assault. As other employees, and finally, Sandra’s fiance are dragged in, the caller is revealed – an ordinary suburban Joe, who is never identified except under his psuedonym. More creepily, he is shown making sandwiches, drinking from his Dad mug…whilst giving out orders of abuse. Finally, burly trucker Harold realises its a scam, and alerts the actual police.

What makes this shocking is that Zobel has used a true story. This happened 70 times across 30 states, until an arrest was made in 2004. Frightening and disturbing, Compliance makes you wonder why we automatically jump if someone claims to be the police…and why we do it.

Brilliantly disturbing. Watch it.

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